Ryerson University

Last Saturday, September 29, night the Distillery District was aglow with the spirit of Dada, as we made our way down through the crowd to see the Nuit Blanche performance of "TEKE,” the piece prepared by our MLC creative team for Dada Reboot!, based on Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven’s eponymous 1921 poem. It was a memorable night.

Imagine a huge dark industrial garage in the condo part of the district, just below Mill Street, where the path might otherwise be less travelled by Nuit Blanche revelers. As you enter, you see projected on the wall, three metres tall, a towering video collage of animated body parts, moving eyes, arms, legs. The concrete floor in front of it is covered with a living room carpet with flowers. A shopping cart is parked in the middle of the carpet, with a large sign, "Next performance at 11:00 PM.”

At 11:00 PM sharp, three figures, two scantily dressed women in flesh colored shorts and tops, with bare feet, come strolling down the garage entrance: performer Cassandra Witteman, head shaved, letters adorning her arms and legs and back; Annie Wong, a sound poetry artist; and David Jones, the creator of the video collage.

The threesome pick up the shopping cart, David having donned a huge cone-like hat (a nod to Dada sound poet Hugo Ball who first wore it in 1916 at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich). David announces to the people waiting for the performance to begin: "We are going to get ourselves an audience.” Off they go with the shopping cart, making noise and calling out to the passersby, "FOLLOW US.”

In less than 2 minutes, they are back with an audience of ten or so in tow.

Annie and Cassandra now take their positions in front of the wall, and stand silent on the large carpet, as the body fragments begin to dance on their skin. Then they begin their Dada incantation:

Pulpqvemank — albdch — n — n — n — qvn — n — n

Snjirre husta —

Aja — ja — hacha — huk—huluk —

Julptkfrsjrinnefrqvnrimba —

Tnvrqvtqvnrimba —

As their bodies become animated and entranced following the rhythm of the sounds, Annie grabs Cassandra’s arm, reading, consuming, and ejaculating the poetic sounds inscribed there, their bodies becoming alive through sound, reminding us also of Charles Bernstein’s description of sound as "the flesh of language.”

With cameras flashing, Annie and Cassandra leave their viewers compelled, alternating in the recitation of sound to the final flourish when sound becomes again silence. We stay for several performances, with each performance becoming a permutation of the previous, as the performers also engage their audience moving close to them, staring.

At midnight we find TEKE on the Centre Stage of the Distillery.

Thank you to Annie Wong, Cassandra Witteman, and David Jones for your terrific creative engagement of Dada and the Baroness’s "TEKE” at Nuit Blanche last night. Your "Dada Reboot” contribution was inspiring and the MLC is proud of your creative exploration of the connection of sound and body.

Recent News

Lucy Wowk joins MLC

Lucy Wowk joins MLC

Lucy Wowk is a BA student in Creative Industries (2014-2018), specializing in print and curatorial practices, with a particular interest in ...

Avantgarde Artist Mina Loy

Avantgarde Artist Mina Loy

Mina Loy is a bold avant-garde poet and visual artist. Her work is being recognized with a 2017 National Endowment for the Humanities grant.

Jenna McClelland joins MLC

Jenna McClelland joins MLC

An MA student in Ryerson’s Literatures of Modernity Programme (2016-2017), Jenna McClelland specializes in the study of punk ...

Kailey Havelock joins MLC

Kailey Havelock joins MLC

A SSHRC-funded MA student in the Literatures of Modernity program at Ryerson University (2016-2017), Kailey Havelock holds an Honours BA in ...

The Great War in Literature and Visual Culture

MLC Themes

The Great War in Literature and Visual Culture

Amid the unprecedented social change of World War I, women renegotiated their identities by dramatically changing the way they engaged with the arts. But how did they do so? And how did everyday citizens engage with the war?

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven

MLC Themes

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, considered by many to be the mother of Dada, was a daringly innovative poet and an early creator of junk sculpture. “The Baroness” was best known for her sexually charged, often controversial performances.

Modernism in the World

MLC Themes

Modernism in the World

Recent research has departed from the Euro-centric and national view of Modernism to include approaches and methods studying Modernism across national boundaries and across different art forms to include fashion, dance, performance, technology, and visual culture.

Lucy Maud Montgomery

MLC Themes

Lucy Maud Montgomery

L.M. Montgomery is perhaps Canada's most important literary export. She was prolific writer of over 500 short stories and poems, and twenty novels, including the beloved Anne of Green Gables.

Canadian Modernism

MLC Themes

Canadian Modernism

The works of numerous Canadian authors who lived during the modernist era may well constitute the most central and experimental articulation of Canadian modernism in prose, allowing authors to stage cross-cultural, controversial, and even conflicted identities.

Modernist Biography and Life Writing

MLC Themes

Modernist Biography and Life Writing

Life writing, including autobiographical accounts, diaries, letters and testimonials written or told by women and men whose political, literary or philosophical purposes are central to their lives, has become a standard tool for communication and the dissemination of information.